Cartoon Dolphin Drawing in 4 Steps With Photoshop

A cartoon dolphin drawing is easily recognizable for its simple shape and its playful associations with people. As artists, children and adults alike will find that a dolphin cartoon is a good starting point for drawing cartoon animals.

Dolphins are incredibly intelligent mammal. Not only can they can use tools, pass on knowledge to their off-springs, but are extremely sociable. All these cultural behaviors were originally thought as something only humans can do.

The interactions between humans and dolphins have been documented well throughout history. Whether drawings or other forms of media, there is no shortage of stories related to dolphins and people.

The simplicity of the body, combined with the mouth that looks like a natural smile, makes this animal easy and fun to draw. Even some logos, where simplicity is prioritized, use this animal to represent a company, product, or idea.

Making the cartoon dolphin drawing

The fundamental shape would be an eclipse for the main body. It's such a simple shape that multiple dolphins can be drawn at all once. Just remember to make the eclipse smaller for dolphins that are far away.

Proportions are very simple as well. Consider dividing the body into four parts. The dorsal fin is found half way while the pectoral fins are found on the first quarter of the eclipse shape. Divide this by half again and this where the eyes are at.

cartoon dolphin drawing step 1 from cgattic.ca

Furthermore, all the fins can be sketch in using triangles. There are five fins in total. Continuing on the head, the mouth is simple drawn with a small oval, which connects to the eyes.

Each dolphin will have unique markings on the underside. It is possible to continue the 'smile' of the mouth to the front flippers, and then, running all the way to the underside. Any curves are perfectly fine for this pattern.

Cleaning up the cartoon dolphin drawing

The cartoon dolphin drawing line art is the result of finalizing the initial sketch. In this example, all the curves and lines are continuous without any jagged pixels out of place. Everything can be done with the pen tool (for vector graphics) or the airbrush and eraser tool.

In detailing out the dolphin, the key characteristics on the face would be the slightly longer lower portion of the mouth, where the 'chin' underside protrudes forward to give the animal its unique pointed look.

cartoon dolphin drawing step 2 from cgattic.ca

The rest of the body is self-explanatory where all the triangles are curved off and the thickness of the body is clearly defined. One important part to note is the sudden tapering of the tail as it approaches the flukes.

Any additional features, such as water splashing, can be added in this step. Just make sure that it works well with the action of the dolphin. When the line drawing is done, the next step would be to fill it in with the right colors.

Coloring the cartoon dolphin drawing

Dolphins usually come in a monotonous grey color scheme. It can have very dark skin or very light skin depending on the specie. One defining trait in most dolphins is that the underside, or belly, is usually lighter than the upper body.

This is why the original sketch, and consequently the line drawing, has a line dividing the upper and lower body. This separation will make coloring much easier. Using the wand tool, select a zone on the line drawing where the color will be.

cartoon dolphin drawing step 3 from cgattic.ca

Then, create a new layer and fill in the zone with the right color. The option to fill in the color would be found under Edit > Fill on Photoshop's tool ribbon. Repeat this process for all the zones bordered off by the line drawing.

All in all, there is a very limited color palette to worry about: neutral grey for the upper body, a light grey for the belly, and white for the eyes. If there is water present, fill that in with blue.

Texturing the cartoon dolphin drawing

Simply filling in the flat colors is enough to suggest a finished cartoon dolphin drawing. Any additional texturing will be building on the background colors already established. This step will consist of a few steps.

Before anything is started, lock down the layer that contains the colors to preserve the shape of the dolphin. The objective is turning the flat grey into a gradient that brings out the cylindrical shape of the main body.

cartoon dolphin drawing step 4 from cgattic.ca

Using a chalk brush, color in the upper half of the body with a darker grey. This is to fade out the dorsal fin into the background. This dark grey will start from the front lobe and will extend all the way to the tail and rounding out the top side of the fluke.

Repeat this dark grey on other dolphins present in the drawing. Next, lighten up the pectoral fins, which will bring it towards the foreground. Again, repeat this step for other dolphins when applicable.

In order to create a shine on the main body, use the 'scattering' option. This will simulate small sunlight bouncing off wet skin. On the subject of creating light, add in a light border around the dolphin to simulate a rim light.

The last step would be to unify all the colors together. The best way to do this is to use a soft round brush. When set to a very large scale, this brush will glaze in a large section of a selected color. Other than this, use any contrast or brightness settings to finish the cartoon dolphin drawing!